Rams' draft outlook
March 14, 2007
By Jim Thomas
For Sporting News
An in-depth look at the Rams' needs heading into the 2007 draft:
1. Defensive end. Given the number of double teams and chip blocks Leonard Little faced in 2006, it's amazing he produced 13 sacks, 33 pressures and six forced fumbles. The team's other ends accounted for a total of two sacks. The team is in dire need of another pass-rush threat, especially because Little turns 33 next season. If Clemson's Gaines Adams and Arkansas' Jamaal Anderson are out of reach with the 13th overall pick, Michigan's LaMarr Woodley, Notre Dame's Victor Abiamiri and Georgia's Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson could be targets in the first or second round.
2. Defensive tackle. The absence of a proven nose tackle was evident in a run defense that ranked next to last in the league. Jimmy Kennedy never had played nose tackle before -- and it showed. Instead of consistently taking on double teams to free up linebackers, he often was caught out of position trying to make a play upfield. Michigan's Alan Branch and Louisville's Amobi Okoye are two of the top tackles in the draft, but the Rams might have to trade up to get either one.
4. Middle linebacker. There has been some discussion about moving Will Witherspoon outside to his natural position, where he could be paired with Pisa Tinoisamoa. Then the Rams could add some much-needed size to their front seven by acquiring a thumper for the middle. It could be a two-down player who could help in the box against the run before giving way to extra defensive backs in the nickel and dime packages. Michigan's David Harris or Wake Forest's Jon Abbate might make sense in the second or third round.
5. Guard/center. The late-season lineup of guards Mark Setterstrom and Richie Incognito and center Brett Romberg may be the wave of the future inside. But the Rams need quality depth, especially in the wake of Adam Timmerman's release.
6. Wide receiver. For years, the team has relied on smaller, quicker receivers, but coach Scott Linehan wanted to add a bigger receiver to use in the slot and help out in red zone and third-down situations, and got him in former Titan Drew Bennett. Still, Torry Holt turns 31 in June and Isaac Bruce will be 35 in November. It's time to add some young legs. Southern California's Dwayne Jarrett and South Carolina's Sidney Rice, both of whom have size and big-play ability, are early-round options.
7. Offensive tackle. Orlando Pace and Alex Barron are the bookends at tackle, but the team needs young depth, considering re-signed Todd Steussie is 36.
8. Cornerback. Even if Ronald Bartell is the answer at nickel back, the team needs fourth and fifth corners.
After whiffing on Damione Lewis, apparently whiffing on Kennedy and letting Ryan Pickett go as a free agent, will the Rams take yet another defensive tackle in the first round? The most logical first-round options are a run-stuffing defensive tackle or a pass-rushing end.
Considering the team spent good free-agent cash on Bennett and former Dolphins/Linehan lineage players Randy McMichael and Travis Minor, the team can put finding offensive skill players on the backburner in April and focus on the other side of the ball.